LaLiga: Clubs begin full squad training for two weeks before league resumption
Leader Barcelona will resume at Mallorca on 13 June, with Atlético visiting Athletic Bilbao on 14 June and Real Madrid hosting Eibar
Madrid: Spanish clubs resumed full squad training on Monday, beginning the final stage of preparations for the return to competition.
Clubs will have just under two weeks of full sessions before the league restarts on 11 June, almost three months after it was halted because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Training was only previously allowed with groups of up to 14 players. Clubs began individual sessions a few weeks ago and had been gradually increasing their workload.
On Monday, Barcelona showed an image of coach Quique Setién surrounded by the entire squad in training, along with the message “Together Again", and a video of Lionel Messi scoring a goal.
Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid also showed their players training in full groups.
The resumption of normal training comes a day after the league confirmed the dates and times of the first two rounds of matches following its suspension in mid-March. The first game will be the derby between Sevilla and Real Betis on 11 June.
⏳ Let the countdown begin! ⌛️
— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) May 31, 2020
Leader Barcelona will resume at Mallorca on 13 June, with Atlético visiting Athletic Bilbao on 14 June and Real Madrid hosting Eibar. The derby between Valencia and Levante will be played on 12 June.
“It's been unusual preparation, with the players not being allowed to be together,” Real Madrid defender Nacho Fernández told league broadcaster Movistar late Sunday. “The team has been practising well and with a lot of confidence. We want to be at 100% when we start, and right now we are at about 95%.”
With all remaining league matches likely to be played without fans, Madrid has decided to host games at the Alfredo Di Stéfano Stadium, the team’s training centre, thus allowing renovation work at the Santiago Bernabéu to continue during the summer as originally planned.
“It would be strange to play at the Bernabéu without fans,” Fernández said. “We have practised at the Alfredo Di Stéfano before. We will get used to it.”
Madrid trails Barcelona by two points in the league.
“It will be a new championship, with 11 matches remaining,” Barcelona defender Clément Lenglet said. “We will need the maximum number of points to be able to win the title. It will be like starting from zero.”
Players will have trained for about a month by the time the league resumes. Matches are expected to be played every day until the competition concludes on 19 July.
“We know it’s a risk to play so many matches like this, after the stoppage and with the heat,” Lenglet said. “We will have to be well prepared.”
The league will schedule most games late in the day to take into account high temperatures in Spain, but some can also be brought forward based on favourable weather forecasts. There will be a couple of matches at 1 pm local time (1100 GMT) on the first weekend.
All games will include an “applause to infinity” tribute to the “heroes who are fighting to overcome” the pandemic. Pre-recorded applause uploaded in videos by fans will be played in the 20th minute of matches.
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